Muoio worked as an event coordinator for a third-party electricity supplier and carefully choreographed the power needs of exhibitors, presenters and attendees at trade shows held in the massive hall.
“There are very long days and you’re on your feet all the time,” said Muoio, 39. “Sometimes you don’t even have time to eat.”
During a typical January, the presence of CES in and around Las Vegas is unmistakable. Hotel prices skyrocket, restaurants and clubs are packed, and workers like Muoio log extra hours to make sure everything goes smoothly for the big money-making program and related events. Last year, the 170,000 CES participants are estimated to have generated $ 1
The move, designed to prioritize health and safety during the Covid-19 pandemic, serves as yet another blow to a city already sent under crisis with the current health and economic crises.
The money is running out
The labor market in Las Vegas has been hardest hit among major U.S. metro areas during the pandemic. The region is heavily dependent on travel, discretionary spending, business conferences and large gatherings, but has seen these key stages turned off.
After being fired in March, Muoio was permanently fired in August.
Since then, she says she has applied for hundreds of jobs – including home-to-home events that coordinate roles and positions in customer service or marketing – but have yet to land anything permanent.
Living without health insurance and awaiting an application for statelessness benefits that has been pending since August, Muoio said she is lucky she had saved some money for a possible down payment on a house.
“That money is slowly dripping down slowly,” she said. “I’m running out.”
Brandon Geyer faces a similar situation. He has been out of work since March.
“Come March, when this first happened, I was under the impression that we would be shut down for a few weeks, not so much,” he said. “Another week goes by, and another week goes by, and suddenly I have not gone back to work since March.”
For nearly 24 years, Geyer, 49, had cared for a bar on Main Street Station, a casino, brewery and hotel in downtown Las Vegas that remains temporarily closed due to the pandemic. And while the crowds grew each time CES came to town, Main Street Station attracted a loyal clientele, many of whom Geyer got to know well over the years.
Geyer said he is grateful to receive unemployment benefits, that his wife still has her job, and that they had some money in savings to support themselves and their two children. Culinary Workers Union Local 226 has also helped provide weekly food assistance and groceries.
But the loss of full and stable income takes its toll, Geyer said. He hopes his union’s push for Clark County, Nevada, to adopt a “right of return” policy will be introduced, requiring employers to offer redundant workers the right to return to their old jobs when companies reopen.
“We just wonder when we will get back to work,” he said.
The Boyd Gaming-owned Main Street Station is expected to reopen sometime in 2021, CEO Keith Smith said during the company’s latest earnings call in October.
This time last year, optimism was high that 2020 – and CES 2021 – would be quite prosperous for Las Vegas, said Steve Hill, executive director of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
“We had sat down [room tax dollars] records for seven of the previous 10 months, “he said. It looked like it would definitely continue. “
Instead, the new 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall sits eerily empty, Hill said.
The expectation from both the visiting authority and the CES organizers is that the event will return to Las Vegas in 2022 and beyond. Although it will probably look a little different when it returns.
“The future of events is likely to include a digital component,” officials from the Consumer Technology Association, which hosts CES, said in a statement. “The event industry has had to innovate throughout this pandemic, change business models and adapt to our new circumstances.”
Monday night, more than two dozen tent sites at properties along the famous Las Vegas Strip were lit with the message, “We miss you, CES. Can’t wait to welcome you back in 2022.”
‘All bets are off’
For cities like Las Vegas to see a meaningful economic improvement, people need to feel comfortable traveling again, being indoors again, and willing to spend money, said John Restrepo, rector of Las Vegas-based RCG Economics.
And until vaccinations are widespread, “all bets are off,” Restrepo said.
This time, Restrepo predicts that it will take at least three years for the state to reach the uniform annual growth rates seen in major economic indicators before the pandemic hits. It will take even longer, he said, to get back to the actual levels of jobs, sales taxes, gaming revenue and convention attendees.
“It’s going to be a long shot out of this scrub here in southern Nevada,” he said.